5 Questions With > Prof. Henry Jenkins

One thing I’ve always wanted to do with PGPoA is discuss not just the latest toys or the machinations of various toy companies, but also the nature of of our hobby and, in particular, the way the toys regularly intersect with media since the days of the “half-hour commercials” in the 1980s. And so it’s with great pleasure that I present this interview with Prof. Henry Jenkins. If you’ve never heard of Professor Jenkins, I think it’s your duty as a geek to become familiar with his work.

Real Name: Henry Jenkins
Specialty: Educator
Base of Operations: henryjenkins.org
History: Henry Jenkins is the Provost’s Professor of Communication, Journalism, and Cinematic Arts at the University of Southern California. He arrived at USC in Fall 2009 after spending the past decade as the Director of the MIT Comparative Media Studies Program and the Peter de Florez Professor of Humanities. He is the author and/or editor of twelve books on various aspects of media and popular culture, including Textual Poachers: Television Fans and Participatory Culture, Hop on Pop: The Politics and Pleasures of Popular Culture and From Barbie to Mortal Kombat: Gender and Computer Games. His newest books include Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide and Fans, Bloggers and Gamers: Exploring Participatory Culture. He is currently co-authoring a book on “spreadable media” with Sam Ford and Joshua Green. He has written for Technology Review, Computer Games, Salon, and The Huffington Post.

1.) An easy one first: what were your own favorite toys as a kid? Did you have any action figures?

I think you could say that I was raised on the cusp of the era of action figures. Many of my favorite toys were extensions of media properties that mattered to me. For example, I love, to death, a rubber King Louie figure which was produced to coincide with the release of Walt Disney’s The Jungle Book. I had many stuffed figures who embodied cartoon characters or cereal box icons — some of which had pull cords which activated phonograph recordings hidden in their bellies. I had a series of small plastic figurines which embodied key characters from the Hanna-Barbara cartoons, and a company called Soakie distributed bubble bath in plastic cases designed to look like popular characters as well. We collected these and used them to block out little plays. Continue reading “5 Questions With > Prof. Henry Jenkins”

Joes For Tots > Sponsorship Spotlight 80sTees.com

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It’s still not too late to enter Joes For Tots and you don’t want to miss out because cool sponsors like 80sTees.com and their awesome gift cards are hard to pass up. Seriously, they have some cool shirts. Let’s check some out!

Continue reading “Joes For Tots > Sponsorship Spotlight 80sTees.com”

G.I. Joe and Transformers Finally Coming Back to DVD

transformer-cartoon

Hasbro has announced that both the original Transformers and G.I. Joe animated series are going to be on DVD again, brought to us via Shout! Factory and should be available later this year.

This is extremely welcome news to me, because both series have been out of print on DVD for years. As a Joe fan it was even worse than not simply being able to buy them. While the Transformers animated series saw a full release, the G.I. Joe series was never completed before the rights went from Rhino to Sony. Sony, for whatever crazy reason, sat on the license and completely missed the perfect windows for a releases like during the G.I. Joe 25th anniversary and the release of the first Transformers live action movie. In the mean time many fans spent a fortune for the out of print DVDs. For example, the final Joe season was going for over a hundred bucks on Amazon when it originally retailed for around 30 dollars, and the original Joe film was going for double it’s original retail price. Many fans who couldn’t afford the ridiculously inflated prices turned to bootlegs. Hopefully, those that turned to other methods to get their classic toon fix will reinvest in either animated series, so Joe fans can finally complete their collection.

Original Hasbro press release after the break:

Continue reading “G.I. Joe and Transformers Finally Coming Back to DVD”

You Sunk My Movie Themed G.I. Joe Vehicle

You know what sucks about G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra aside from almost everything revealed about it so far? The fact that there’s all these new G.I. Joe tie-in products that have almost nothing to do with the Joes that I love. They’re filled with all this newfangled Joe movie stuff that certainly does nothing to bank on my nostalgia and therefore my insane desire to buy anything beloved from the days of my youth. Take G.I. Joe Battleship for example. It’s a cool update to one of my favorite board games of all time, yet there’s nary a classic vehicle or character on the box. Of course, there is the updated Night Raven, but it’s not THE Night Raven.

gi-joe-movie-battleship

Hot damn, now I know what it’s like to be one of those old guys who only collects the classic 12-inch Joes. It sucks.

Thanks to: Toy News International

Soundwave in San Diego

Hasbro revealed this last week that the G1 Soundwave would be their exclusive Transformer at this year’s San Diego Comic Con. Everyone’s favorite tape recording Decepticon will come with plenty of friends. He’s going to have Ravage, Buzzsaw, Laserbeak, and Ratbat along with him at the show.

soundwavesandiego09exclusivetransformer

Personally, I’ve never been too terribly impressed with the Transformer exclusives. They just seem like simple repaints most of the time, but I’m not a huge Transformers fan so I guess I don’t have my finger on the pulse of what’s desirable. This Soundwave seems a hell of a lot more interesting than the usual offering, but I’ll definitely be skipping this one too. I managed to get a hold of the exclusive Toys R Us “reissue” from a few years ago. Yeah, I know that Soundwave had a different chest piece that held two mini-figs and that the San Diego version is the “true” one and he comes with extra cassettes, but I can only have so many Soundwaves. Anyone looking to get their hands on this guy?

Original Source: Transformers Collector’s Club

Robo Course

While obviously I encourage you to go out and buy the a copy of ToyFare #132, you can now read my retrospective on the 1980s Robo Force toy line on TF’s website as well.

Get ‘Er, Robo!
Robo Force may have suction cups for behinds, but these robot toys never, ever sucked

Hello, Robo! Adios, Robo!
ToyFare looks at the five strangest Robo Force robots and the ones that didn’t make the cut